Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Today’s Generation Gap: The Technology Addiction

An entire generation is in denial.  My generation, the technological immigrants who sailed into the technological age and had to adjust to the new culture in order to survive, is in denial.  We bemoan the constant use of technology.  Teachers of my generation struggle to get students to put the technology away.  Parents shake their heads and retell poetic stories of having to go to libraries and look through card catalogs.  We tell younger people to turn off the phone, the computer and the tablet.  We send a message of generation gap when we say, “Stop texting and reading email – enough!”  We are, however, hiding our own technological addictions.  We aren’t admitting it.  We are addicted, too.

I attend an unusual number of professional conferences each year.  I am a frequent presenter I believe, in part, because I am engaging enough to actually get the people to put their technology down and listen.  I like to walk into other presenters’ sessions and speeches to gauge audience reaction to different presentation styles.  I am people watching.  What do I notice most?  People in lectures on their smartphones.  Their thumb movements indicate when they are scrolling through social media.  I can see the texting, waiting for reply and texting again.  Rooms full of adults of my generation are doing exactly what we ask students to stop doing. 

I pay attention to social media trends because I share this blog and other educational items online.  I have to know where the people are posting and watching.  The most well known trend is the shift in Facebook users.  Facebook was created for college age students, then embraced by teens, discovered by my generation and quickly abandoned by the young.  My young adult children and their friends tell me that my generation ruined Facebook for them.  It simply isn’t cool to be on social media with all of the middle aged people.  They have migrated to Instagram, Snapchat and other platforms.  It was the massive number of people in my generation using Facebook that chased them elsewhere; yet, we click our tongues and shake our heads at our children on social media.

We, the immigrants of technology who have assimilated to succeed in this new landscape, need to admit it.  We need to approach our societal technological addiction differently than we are right now at home and in classrooms.  When I teach, I give my students a few moments to wrap up technology use before I begin.  That is true of the 6th graders I teach as well as the 50-somethings for whom I provide professional development sessions.  I give them a warning, “Two more minutes and the technology will need to be put away.”  I tell my students – young and not so young – that I will put my technology away and If my phone is in my pocket, I need theirs to be too.  They respect that.  When I ask my students to tell someone my technology rule, they say, “If she puts it away, so do we.”  I am living what I request of them.  They see me put the phone away.  They respect that and I know they do because they actually put the smartphones in their pockets when I put mine in my pocket. 

Likewise, if my phone vibrates and I must check it, I allow everyone a moment to check their phones.  I will not be that “do as I say, not as I do” adult in anyone’s life.  Consider your use of technology and if you are asking of young people to do more than you are willing to do yourself.  Are you distracted by the television when you should be meeting a responsibility?  Admit it.  Work with your child to walk away from distractions together.  Are you supposed to be paying attention in an event but are looking at your smartphone?  Think twice before you admonish your child or student from doing the same.

Close this gap in the generations by admitting it.  You are as attracted to and distracted by technology as younger people.  If you don’t think that you are pulled away from life by your email, texts, tablet, TV show or smartphone, at least admit this – technology isn’t going away.  Its pull is only increasing so you need to find a way to say with your actions, “I know the card catalog isn’t coming back and that isn’t a negative observation about you.  You are of your time and you need to be.  Let’s work together to do all things in moderation.”

For the first article in this generation gap series, go to "Today's Generation Gap:  The Great Food & Nutrition Debate."

Go to my full website for information about webinars, presentations and individual coaching for parents and educators -Helping Kids Achieve.

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Today’s Generation Gap: The Great Food & Nutrition Debate

There is a generational divide about nutrition and food.  I have become acutely aware of it over the past year.  A series of events has caused me to try to solve a puzzle – why is are so many people my age (including me) working so hard to get past our food issues & lead a healthier lifestyle while simultaneously struggling with the good and right nutritional rules set forth by educational communities?  If we know that we struggle, why don’t we want better for our youth?  What compels adults to continue to treat food like love?

For the past year of my own healthier lifestyle journey and the journey of my school toward a healthier environment (which by the way was a request that came from parents), I have been researching, observing and reflecting.  I hope that by sharing my journey, you learn a bit about you and about the mistakes that we perpetuate with our students and our own children.  

I have personally been working very hard to change.  I am adhering to a healthy, balanced diet.  I wear a fitness tracker.  I have joined a gym.  I have not eaten unhealthy food at all – not one sugar filled food or fried food.  I try to walk 10,000 steps every day and have at least 30-60 active minutes per day.  I have lost more than 50 pounds and people want to know my secret.  There is no secret – I have dieted and exercised under a doctor’s care and advice.  Well, actually, that isn’t entirely true.  There is a secret.  I have acknowledged that my generation and prior generations did all the wrong things with food.  When we gathered for celebrations, we ate junk.  When we were sad, we were offered food.  When we achieved, we celebrated with a special snack.  The goal became to get sugar and fat and those things that poison the blood stream.  The road to confidence, happiness and acceptance was paved with cupcakes, ice cream and donuts.

As part of my learning experience, I have started a course about healthy lifestyles and the importance of that lifestyle to growing children.  I wanted to know all I could to explain to parents and teachers the right and scientific reasons that they should change how they see food, how they were raised with it.  I wanted to have facts to support the notion that schools are doing what is right for your children rather than trying to ruin their birthdays.  The course is very informative. 

Research has shown that when children are offered only a healthy diet, they happily choose between healthy foods and do not feel deprived.  That’s our perception and our mental health issue.  Just as we shouldn’t visit our fear of the dark or driving or change on our children, we shouldn’t visit our perception of food as a celebration or reward or sign of love on them. 

Yes, you can celebrate birthdays – at home – in your own way – with healthier choices and maybe a fun day having a family adventure.  Promoting poor nutritional choices should not be the role of institutions in today’s world filled with new allergies that pop up every day, an obesity epidemic and in a world where we have more information about the importance of good nutrition for brain development.

I find that the younger generation of parents knows far more about leading a healthier lifestyle than my generation.  We have to play catch up.  So many of the parents I encounter have always been runners and exercisers, taking fitness classes at the gym or walking with their fitness trackers.  They talk about recipes for making healthy food with variety and appeal.  They do not default to sodium and sugar filled foods at every turn.  I applaud them for requesting that my generation does not fill their children with junk.  They are right.

And yet – I have spent months watching otherwise logical adults battle for the right to feed children food that their parents don’t want them to eat.  I keep reflecting on the conversations, the constant requests to ignore both government & school regulations and asking myself why this is so important to them.  I keep coming back to the same reason – these adults have, perhaps subconsciously, confused unhealthy food with praise, love, happiness and enjoyment.  Stop.  Just stop. 

Our parents were wrong.  We were wrong.  Help our youth to not struggle at my age to change.  Be the living example of doing the right thing.  Do what you want with your own body in the privacy of your own life but teach these children to do better.

Check out my website for upcoming webinars and for information about presentations for educators & parents - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.